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Whispers and Trees
By the light of dusk, an egg within the earth warmed to a gentle touch. By the shade of dawn, a wavering flame had kindled beneath that wall of stone. Then, hungrily, a single tendril of life broke the barrier that opposed it, and reached for the sun.
She spread her fingers and pushed them into the dirt, staking her claim of existence into the world, and firmly rooting herself within it. The soil returned her grip; they reflected each other, and both were satisfied. This was hers now.
Her eyes were closed to the warmth beyond them, and curiously, she explored with her other senses first, simply to feel the softness of her foundation, before her blindness was lifted. Colors swam like fish throughout the current of her broad gaze, and an ocean of crystalline blue flooded her arms. Greens rolled over her toes, reds whispered to her on the wind, and golds brushed against her sides. She smiled silently back, in the absence of a reply she wasn’t given the words make.
Songs were sent down to her from the clouds, and she felt them run past her fingertips as they fell to her feet, bouncing with music like bells as they disappeared beneath her toes. A single blazing eye drifted amidst the turbulent waters above her, peering at her by day from behind the phantoms that churned alongside it. By night, a thousand more overlooked her like guardians, and she noted that they only seemed to shine when there was a darkness to shine from, when there was no light pollution to drown them out.
Thus, her life was a cycle: The Summer simmered in her hands, The Fall took a scarlet burden from her arms, The Winter chilled her into a deep sleep, and The Spring thawed her heart to bring her back to life again. Spring was always her favorite.
She enjoyed this peace for as long as fate permitted it to last, but then, inevitably, came the noise. Ensuing the calm that had raised her, a storm brewed over her head; never before had such a sound shaken her to the very core.
She had existed for far longer than them, and in that time, had observed many of their artificial stars wink in and out of her reach. Yet, even as numerous as the years she was destined to see, she would never witness a change in the ones who carved the world away as though their lives depended on it. They woke. They wanted. They took. They died. They drove stakes into the earth’s flesh, spoiling its fruits and injecting poison into the very blood that fed them.
She had her own scars, too; from a fire that once struck from the heavens and seared her skin, from a blade that stole her upper limbs some time ago, permanently stunting her growth even after she recovered. Her heart told a story; encoded within the many hundreds of rings and spirals which documented her every day forward, that no one else could feel but her.
A child played at her feet, squealing and jumping at the leaves that turned cartwheels over his head. She watched as a flustered mother bundled him away into a jacket and donned him a scarf that hugged his throat like a noose. He turned to wave goodbye to an imaginary playmate, or perhaps to even the tree herself, and she swayed contentedly in the wind.
A single finch shivered in her palm, and left her for a warmer horizon.
The sea that swamped her limbs was not blue anymore; it now rusted from the wounds where the daggers of smokestacks had pierced its side, and it thickened like sludge in her outstretched arms. Clots riddled her veins and festered beneath a skin that was once her armor, before the metal and the stones and the hands that held them. She choked on the breath of their machines, and shuddered as they rumbled past.
She didn’t cry, but her lamentations were heard in the groans that escaped her corrugated trunk, before they were lost in the wind. Her guardians’ eyes had been sealed shut, and their ocean had become eviscerated in their place.
There would come a instant in her life when the pendulum of time would strike her down like an axe, and she could only wait. So, she waited; as patiently as anything could, because that was the only constant this world had given her, but wondered whenever these lands had become so clouded. Or, perhaps that smog had hovered here all along, and perhaps it had always been this hard to breathe. Maybe, she considered, it was just her vision after all.
Meanwhile, the clouds weighed heavy in her arms, and slowly dragged her back to the dirt.
And one day, the sun would rise and slip from her fingertips, returning her hands to the earth once more, but what sound would she make if no one could hear her fall?